To create an oratory building on the campus of Ave Maria University that would not only provide an anchor between the college and the town, but also lend an Italian architectural air, the university looked to the versatility and durability of Tilt-Up concrete. Building on extensive experience overseeing the construction of many other structures on campus, Woodland Construction was hired to build the oratory.
The complicated structure, which features cast recesses and integral returns, required two years of planning, including preliminary panel designs and constructability studies, prior to construction. Each panel was designed with a 5-foot-radius return wall, and all of the panels had to be welded to a steel frame that soared more than 100 feet above the finished floor.
While the large, heavy panels were an asset in that they solved a structural uplift challenge, both forming the layered panels (which were poured in three mobilizations to achieve a three-dimensional effect) and lifting them into place (which was done with a 300-ton crane, and required embeds consisting of 1-inch steel tubes attached to 8 feet of rebar) proved to be a challenge for the contractor. Once the panels were placed, an imported Italian stone block finish was applied to the exterior to match the Italian aesthetic of the surrounding buildings.
The completed oratory seats 1,110 people and is the centerpiece of both Ave Maria University and the surrounding town.
Ave Maria Towne, FL 34142
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